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Articles

Here you will find an overview of the journal articles and articles published in edited volumes by the research group and its members.

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2019

Transnationalizing Multiple Secularities: A Comparative Study of the Global Ismaՙili Community

Mohammad Magout

Transnationalizing Multiple Secularities: A Comparative Study of the Global Ismaՙili Community

This article starts with and proceeds from empirical observations about the ways international Ismaՙili students at two institutes for Islamic studies in London draw boundaries between religion and other spheres in their everyday life. According to these observations, students from Ismaՙili communities in Iran, Tajikistan, and Syria tend to make more explicit distinctions between a religious domain and a secular one in comparison with their Khoja coreligionists of East African descent. In order to explain this disparity, structural, ideological, and social conditions in their respective countries and communities are analyzed using the framework of multiple secularities. It is argued that while Ismaՙili communities in Iran, Tajikistan, and Syria have each internalized a motif of secularity from its broader national context, Khoja Ismaՙili communities have developed their own form of secularity, which can be described in terms of internal secularization. This article makes a contribution to the multiple secularities framework by extending its application to the transnational domain and to the analysis of secularity within religious communities. Furthermore, the article offers a comparative approach to the study the role of religion in global Ismaՙilism.


Magout, Mohammad. “Transnationalizing Multiple Secularities: A Comparative Study of the Global Ismaՙili Community.” In “Islamicate Secularities in Past and Present.” Edited by Markus Dressler, Armando Salvatore and Monika Wohlrab-Sahr. Special issue, Historical Social Research 44, no. 3 (2019): 150–79.

2019

Secular Atmospheres: Unveiling and Urban Space in Early 20th Century Iran

Sana Chavoshian

Secular Atmospheres: Unveiling and Urban Space in Early 20th Century Iran

Drawing on sociological approaches to urbanism and secularization, as well as the affective turn in anthropology, this article explores the implementation of secular policies in Iran after the 1936 Unveiling Decree. I argue that constructing transparent social relations reflects the emergence of a new level of secular binds and relies upon the modalities of urban infrastructure and architecture. I find that modernization and secularization in Iran are interlinked by transformations in urban planning that tended to eliminate sites of ambiguity and to homogenize structures and forms of interaction in public and domestic spaces. The article makes use of autobiographical narratives that give witness to manifest changes in the urban atmosphere between the 1930s and 1950s. I will show how the Pahlavi regime took an active role in attempting to build a secular city by invoking segmentations and divisions in urban spaces to promote a secular atmosphere and limit religious ideas.


Chavoshian, Sana. “Secular Atmospheres: Unveiling and Urban Space in Early 20th Century Iran.” In “Islamicate Secularities in Past and Present.” Edited by Markus Dressler, Armando Salvatore and Monika Wohlrab-Sahr. Special issue, Historical Social Research 44, no. 3 (2019): 180–205.

2019

Health and Philosophy in Pre- and Early Imperial China

Michael ​Stanley-Baker

Though there was no single Chinese term that corresponds to the English word health, there were a variety of theories about bodily ideals. This chapter follows these theories through three periods of early Chinese history. A key notion is qi, or “vital breath,” that circulates through the body to preserve health; learning methods of breath control can thus prolong life. So-called “Daoist” philosophy draws a parallel between health in the individual and good order in the state, as well as nature or the cosmos as a whole, an idea furthered in medical works of the Han dynasty.


Stanley-Baker, Michael. “Health and Philosophy in Pre- and Early Imperial China.” In Health: A History. Edited by Peter Adamson, 7–42. Oxford philosophical concepts. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019.

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2019

Potency by Name? ‘Medicine Buddha Plant’ And Other Herbs in the Japanese Scroll of Equine Medicine (Ba’I Sōshi Emaki, 1267)

Katja Triplett

Potency by Name? ‘Medicine Buddha Plant’ And Other Herbs in the Japanese Scroll of Equine Medicine (Ba’I Sōshi Emaki, 1267)

Buddhist ritual healing and medical therapies included care for domestic animals, such as the horse. In pre-modern Japan, equine medicine (ba’i 馬医) was not restricted to the treatment of military horses; it was also practiced in a religious context. The Scroll of Equine Medicine (Ba’i sōshi emaki 馬医草紙絵 巻, 1267) is an enigmatic picture scroll held by the Tokyo National Museum. It extends to more than six meters and contains images of ten divine figures related to the healing of horses, followed by seventeen pictures of plants, and a postscript emphasizing that the content of the scroll should be kept secret. Many of the plants listed in the scroll are either associated with the world of Buddhism, e.g. Yakushi-sō 薬 師草, ‘Medicine Buddha plant,’ or with horses, e.g. metsu-sō 馬頭草, ‘horsehead plant.’ Previous analyses of the scroll largely focused on the botanical identification of the sketches of the plants. This article reviews current interpretations of the scroll and explores the question of whether the plant names were thought to empower the plants to be used as potent materia medica for veterinary purposes. Based on earlier analyses, I suggest a new interpretation of the scroll from a study of religions perspective taking into consideration that some of the plant names in the scroll indicate both health-related and salvific potency. I also address the possible use of the scroll. The scarcity of textual information and the choice of textual detail and imagery in this ‘secret’ scroll suggests that it was used in the context of an oral transmission and empowerment ritual. The scroll itself seems to have been an object of ritual empowerment, rather than a compendium of materia medica for practical daily use when caring for horses.


Triplett, Katja. “Potency by Name? ‘Medicine Buddha Plant’ And Other Herbs in the Japanese Scroll of Equine Medicine (Ba’I Sōshi Emaki, 1267).” In “Materiality, Efficacy, and the Politics of Potent Substances Across Asia.” Edited by Barbara Gerke and Jan van der Valk. Special issue, Himalaya 39, no. 1 (2019).

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2019

Crossmedia Flows of Documentary Images and the Transnational Communicative Figuration Surrounding Gestational Surrogacy in India

Nadja-Christina Schneider

The article is based on the assumption that documentary films are an important ‘channel of mediation’ (Strathern, 2002, Journal of Molecular Biology, 319(4), 985–993) that helps make visible the changing configurations of family, kinship and social reproduction. It further assumes that documentary images of egg donors, medical procedures, fertility clinics, delivery or labouring bodies of surrogates, and handing over of a ‘commodified’ newborn baby to the commissioning parents effectively convey the repercussions that gestational surrogacy has for all the medicalised bodies which are involved in the transnational processes of reproduction. Widely circulated and received documentaries such as Google Baby (2009), House of Surrogates (2013), Ma Na Sapna: A Mother’s Dream (2013) or Can We See the Baby Bump Please? (2013) often function as a starting point and major reference for the debate about this complex issue. But while academic or journalistic articles mostly refer to individual films and on the theme in focus, the different context(s) of the medium itself are less reflected upon.


Schneider, Nadja-Christina. “Crossmedia Flows of Documentary Images and the Transnational Communicative Figuration Surrounding Gestational Surrogacy in India.” BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies 9, no. 2 (2019): 1–24.

2019

Das Verhältnis von Recht, Religion und Politik im politischen Denken Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenfördes

Mirjam Künkler

Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde, politischer Denker und Rechtsgelehrter, ist weit über akademische Kreise der Rechts- und Politikwissenschaft hinaus in der Öffentlichkeit als Richterpersönlichkeit und als „public intellectual“ bekannt. Ein großer Teil seines Werks ist dem Verhältnis von Recht, Politik und Religion gewidmet. Sucht man einen Schlüssel für das angemessene Verständnis der thematisch eine breite Spannweite umfassenden Texte, so kann dieser in der „Diktum“ genannten Aussage Böckenfördes gesehen werden, wonach der freiheitliche säkularisierte Staat von Voraussetzungen lebt, die er selbst nicht garantieren kann. Dieser formelhafte Satz hat Böckenförde die Charakterisierung eines „Einsteins des Staatsrechts“ (Heribert Prantl) eingebracht, aber auch ein angesichts der Zitationspraxis wachsendes Gefühl des Überdrusses bis hin zur Polemik hervorgerufen. In dem Satz liegt eine Problemanzeige verborgen, die jedes Nachdenken über das Verhältnis von rechtlich verfaßter politischer Ordnung und Religion prägt: nämlich ob und in welcher Weise gerade der Staat, der Freiheitsrechte garantiert und der demokratisch legitimiert ist, auf vorrechtliche Voraussetzungen angewiesen ist, die mit den Mitteln staatlichen Rechts nicht hervorgebracht werden können.


Künkler, Mirjam, and Tine Stein. “Das Verhältnis von Recht, Religion und Politik im politischen Denken Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenfördes.” In Politik, Recht und Religion. Edited by Andreas Anter and Verena Frick. 1. Auflage, 137-55. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2019.

2019

Broadening and Homogenising the National Body

Markus Dreßler

This chapter explores the nexus of scholarship and politics in the work of Mehmed Fuad Köprülü. It pays particular attention to his conceptualization of Alevism as an Islamic “heterodox” and essentially a Turkish formation. This conceptualization homogenized the knowledge about Alevism and made possible the assimilation of the Alevis into Turkish nationhood in line with the larger project of nation-building in the early period of the Turkish Republic. Against this historical background, the chapter analyses the processes in which the terms ‘Alevi’ and ‘Alevilik’ gained their contemporary meanings as umbrella terms for a variety of ocak-centered communities. For new trajectories in the field of Alevi studies beyond nationalist and modernist frameworks to emerge, Markus Dreßler argues that understanding critical historicization of modern knowledge about Alevism and a critical dialogue with its own scholarly legacy are preconditions.


Dreßler, Markus. "Broadening and Homogenising the National Body: Fuad Köprülü and the Concept of Alevism." In Alevism between Standardisation and Plurality. Negotiating Texts, Sources and Cultural Heritage. Edited by Benjamin Weineck and Johannes Zimmermann, 235-249. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang (History of Culture of the Modern Near and Middle East, 40).

2019

Religion und religiöse Tradition: Unterscheidungsdiskurse zu den Grenzen des Islams

Markus Dreßler

Drawing on the example of the discursive field of Islam, this article poses the question of how scholarly discourse can represent object language discourses of religious distinction. This necessarily requires engagement with the intricate dynamics between object language and metalanguage. As a first step, the article discusses Talal Asad’s conception of Islamic orthodoxy and its underlying concept of discursive tradition. Drawing on examples from North American Sufi discourses and the modern Turkish discourse on religion, the text discusses, as a second step, the dynamics of object language boundary construction and the confinement of “Islam” that it produces. The final part of the article introduces, in  contradistinction to the static family tree model, a dynamic concept of religious tradition, which enables us to focus on the overlaps and interactions between religious formations of low density and on processes of religionization. 



Dreßler, Markus. "Religion und religiöse Tradition. Unterscheidungsdiskurse zu den Grenzen des Islams." Zeitschrift für Religionswissenschaft 27, no. 1 (2019): 48–77. 

2018

Wider Die Islamische Exzeptionalität: Zur (Inter-)Disziplinarität Der Islamwissenschaft Am Beispiel Des Salafismus

Florian Zemmin

The opening up of Islamic Studies for the humanities and social sciences, a process in which Reinhard Schulze played a leading role, is by now acknowledged as inevitable. The question, however, as to what constitutes Islamic Studies as a discipline remains on the table. Since a substantial conception of interdisciplinarity requires the previous constitution of disciplinary boundaries, this article suggests to define the Islamic discursive tradition as constitutive of Islamic Studies. Other disciplines are consulted to the extent that their theories, approaches or findings contribute to the understanding of a concrete articulation of Islam. In turn, Islamic Studies provides its knowledge of the Islamic discursive tradition whenever this helps to understand certain social, political, economic or other facts, and also to critique, modify, and enhance existing theories. I will use the different manifestations of Salafism to exemplify this basic proposition. Salafism serves well as a case in point since its different proponents all claim their understanding of Islam to be the authentic one, even though in all the cases this understanding is a markedly modern construction. For their respective construction of Islam, salafis appropriate and construct elements of Islamic tradition to different extents; hence, the differing extent to which Islamic Studies and other disciplines can contribute to understanding the different salafi articulations of Islam.


Zemmin, Florian. “Wider Die Islamische Exzeptionalität: Zur (Inter-)Disziplinarität Der Islamwissenschaft Am Beispiel Des Salafismus.” In Islam in Der Moderne, Moderne Im Islam: Eine Festschrift Für Reinhard Schulze Zum 65. Geburtstag. Edited by Florian Zemmin, Johannes Stephan and Monica Corrado, 159–86. Social, Economic and Political Studies of the Middle East and Asia 119. Leiden: Brill, 2018.

2018

Die Macht Der Unterscheidung: Gibt Es Nicht-Westliche Grundlagen Der Säkularität?

Monika Wohlrab-Sahr

Die Kultursoziologin Monika Wohlrab-Sahr diskutiert in ihrem Beitrag die Frage, inwiefern Säkularität nicht nur ein westliches Muster ist, sondern sich sehr wohl auch in anderen religiösen, kulturellen und gesellschaftlichen Traditionen auffinden lässt. So auch in der islamischen Tradition. Deutlich macht sie ihr Misstrauen sowohl gegenüber traditionalistischen wie gegenüber postkolonialen Festlegungen etwa des Islam darauf, das ganz Andere des Westens zu sein.


Wohlrab-Sahr, Monika. “Die Macht Der Unterscheidung: Gibt Es Nicht-Westliche Grundlagen Der Säkularität?” In Religion, Zum Teufel! Edited by Armin Nassehi and Peter Felixberger, 154–70. Hamburg: Kursbuch Kulturstiftung, 2018.

2018

The Shah’s Empress and the Ayatollah’s Qods-E Iran: Public Lives, Private Letters in 20th Century Iran

Neguin Yavari

In a 2009 article on second wave feminism written in the aftermath of the financial crisis of the previous year, Nancy Fraser argues that although feminism has been overtaken by neoliberalism, it still holds an emancipatory promise that may be reactivated to remedy, at least in part, the twin crises of finance capital and US hegemony. Fraser’s panacea is “to integrate the best of recent feminist theorizing with the best of recent critical theory about capitalism,” to recover “feminism’s emancipatory promise in the present moment of economic crisis and political opening,” in the hope that “we might just bend the arc of the impending transformation in the direction of justice—and not only with respect to gender.”


Yavari, Neguin. “The Shah’s Empress and the Ayatollah’s Qods-E Iran: Public Lives, Private Letters in 20th Century Iran.” In Digital Festschrift Project in Honor of Olga M. Davidson. Edited by Niloofar Fotouhi. 2018. http://www.thehollyfest.org/index.php/neguin-yavari-the-shahs-empress-and-the-ayatollahs-qods-e-iran-public-lives-private-letters-in-20th-century-iran/.

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2018

Civility and Charisma in the Long-Term Genesis of Political Modernity Within the Islamic Ecumene

Armando Salvatore

Following a historical sociology approach critiquing and reconstructing key social theory categories, the chapter delineates some key trajectories in the history of the Islamic ecumene through which combinations of saintly charisma and practices of civility originating both within Sufi brotherhoods and courtly milieus were appropriated by various rulers and their courts for the sake of buttressing the political legitimacy of their ever more centralizing states, starting in the Later Middle Periods (13th to 15th centuries) and going into early modernity. The study appraises these developments as significant for the genesis of endogenous Islamicate patterns of precolonial political modernity. The analysis shows how these patterns, and the role played by both religious scholars and state administrators in shaping them, can be contrasted with the European Leviathan-model of sacral sanctioning of sovereignty. Examples are mainly drawn from the evolution of Timurid and Ottoman rule and court cultures in the larger context of late-medieval and early modern Islamicate empires, along with their changing religiopolitical balances. Through this, I also enucleate the potential space of a ‘sociology of Islam,’ of which I am a practitioner, and which I do see as influenced by Reinhard Schulze’s work.


Salvatore, Armando. “Civility and Charisma in the Long-Term Genesis of Political Modernity Within the Islamic Ecumene.” In Islam in Der Moderne, Moderne Im Islam: Eine Festschrift Für Reinhard Schulze Zum 65. Geburtstag. Edited by Florian Zemmin, Johannes Stephan and Monica Corrado, 267–83. Leiden: Brill, 2018.

2018

Konfessionslose – Kirchenfern, Indifferent, Religionslos oder Atheistisch?

Gert Pickel

Seit den 1990er Jahren sind vermehrt die Konfessionslosen ins Blickfeld der empirischen Religionsforschung gerückt. Ein Grund hierfür war eine massive Veränderung der sozioreligiösen Bedingungen. Durch einen kontinuierlichen Fortgang der in den 1970er Jahren begonnenen Kirchenaustritten nach 1990 übersteigt mittlerweile der Anteil der Konfessionslosen (33,1 % der Bundesbürger) den der Mitglieder der katholischen Kirche (30,2 %) und der evangelischen Kirche (29,2) im Bundesgebiet (Stand 2010). Zunehmend stellt sich daher die Frage, wer überhaupt Konfessionslose sind und welche Bedeutung Religion in ihrem Leben einnimmt. Der wissenschaftliche Diskurs konzentriert sich vor allem auf zwei Thesen: Einerseits die Säkularisierungsthese, welche von einem generellen Bedeutungsverlust von Religion im Zusammenhang mit Modernisierungsprozessen ausgeht. Andererseits die Individualisierungsthese des Religiösen, deren zentrale Aussage darin besteht, dass Religion nicht verschwindet, sondern in modernen Gesellschaften – statt institutionalisiert – in individuellen Formen auftritt und sich transformiert. Vor diesem Hintergrund wird in dem Beitrag der Frage nachgegangen, ob Konfessionslose vor allem areligiös, religiös indifferent oder zur Gruppe der „neuen“ Atheisten gehören, die sich zum Teil politisch gegen Religion organisieren. Zudem befasst sich der Beitrag mit den Einstellungen zu Religion und Kirche verschiedener Typen von Konfessionslosen und versucht der Vielfalt der Nichtreligiosität gerecht zu werden. Als Datenmaterial dienen die ALLBUS-Datensätze aus den Jahren 1992, 2002 und 2012 zu den Schwerpunktthemen Religion und Weltanschauung. Im interpretativen Teil der Analyse wird eine Operationalisierung verschiedener Merkmalsausprägungen mithilfe von Allbusitems zu religiöser Erfahrung, religiöser Ideologie und religiöser Praxis zugrunde gelegt. Diese wird durch Prüfverfahren wie Reliabilitäts- und Validitätskontrollen optimiert. Daraufhin erfolgt eine Differenzierung von Konfessionslosen anhand von gruppendifferenzierenden Verfahren.


Pickel, Gert, Yvonne Jaeckel, and Alexander Yendell. “Konfessionslose – Kirchenfern, Indifferent, Religionslos Oder Atheistisch?” In Einstellungen Und Verhalten Der Deutschen Bevölkerung: Analysen Mit Dem Allbus. Edited by Pascal Siegers, Sonja Schulz and Oshrat Hochman, 123–53. Wiesbaden: Springer, 2018.

2018

Law, Legitimacy, and Equality: The Bureaucratization of Religion and Conditions of Belief in Indonesia

Mirjam Künkler

Law, Legitimacy, and Equality: The Bureaucratization of Religion and Conditions of Belief in Indonesia

Secularity in the sense of a social imaginary, an appreciation for the differentiation between religious and political authority, and the acknowledgement of religious plurality surely exist. While, like Senegal and Turkey, Indonesia is a Muslim state that is in the process of translating democracy into its own institutional legacies and of crafting its own brand of democratic religion-state relations, it is probably unique as a case where, although religious and political authority is separated, citizenship is tied to religion. This implies that one’s declared religious affiliation determines the type of religious education and personal law one will be subject to. And there is more: religions are in some ways highly regulated by the state. As the author will argue in the following, in an effort to subsume all social and civic life in the two post-independence authoritarian regimes (1945-1965 and 1965-1998) to the twin goals of political order and economic growth, state bureaucrats sought to ‘modernize’ religion and thereby highly bureaucratized it. Religion in post-independence Indonesia was not only made ‘manageable’ but also put into the service of government policy


Künkler, Mirjam. “Law, Legitimacy, and Equality: The Bureaucratization of Religion and Conditions of Belief in Indonesia.” In A Secular Age Beyond the West: Religion, Law and the State in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Edited by Mirjam Künkler, John Madeley and Shylashri Shankar, 106–27. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.

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